Surgical pathologist remembered for research contributions
by Cindy Abole
William L. Gerald, M.D., Ph.D., a renowned surgical pathologist, scientist and former MUSC faculty member and alumnus, died Sept. 14 in Pelham, New York, after battling with cancer. Gerald was 54 years old.
Dr. William Gerald
Gerald was born March 2, 1954, to Thelma and the late Cleeland T. Gerald. He attended McClenaghan High School in Florence and earned his undergraduate degree at the University of South Carolina in Columbia before attending the Medical University of South Carolina. He completed his residency and anatomic pathology fellowship at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. He returned to MUSC and was an assistant professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine from 1988 to 1992. In 1992, he moved to New York to become an assistant attending and professor at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Gerald’s specialty and interest was in cancers of young people and the molecular biology of cancer. His work focused on identifying and characterizing the clinically relevant molecular alterations in human cancers and gene expression.
“It is with great sorrow that I am writing this in memory of William Gerald,” said Lee Chao, Ph.D., professor, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. “I have known him for more than 30 years. He was a dear friend and one of my former graduate students in the early 1980s. He did his doctoral thesis in my laboratory by cloning and studying the expression of rat kallikrein gene. He had to make all the required reagents before commencing his research work because none of the reagents were commercially available. We had to use homemade sequencing equipment to perform DNA sequencing and protein electrophoresis. Despite these difficulties, he was able to successfully dissect the molecular mechanisms of genetic regulatory circuit with a great deal of sophistication even by today’s standard. He had a great sense of humor and was kind to others. He was easy going and fun to be with. He was the kind of person you wish you could have as a colleague, friend and neighbor. I will miss him dearly.”
Gerald was a member of both American and Canadian pathology associations, the American Society for Investigative Pathology, Association for Molecular pathology and American Association for Cancer Research. He served on numerous academic and hospital committees locally and nationally. He wrote and reviewed numerous research articles and grants.
“Dr. Gerald was a wonderful person and my life was immeasurably richer from having known him,” said Cynthia K. Gittinger, Cell Biology and Anatomy. “I had the opportunity to work with William when he returned to MUSC in 1988 as a faculty member with a vision of establishing a Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory at MUSC. He possessed an outstanding scientific mind coupled with kindness, gentleness of spirit, generosity, and an easy humor; he touched the lives of so many, both professionally and personally. I was fortunate over these many years to have shared his laughter; the loss is almost too much to bear. A true southern gentleman with a great appreciation for nature, boats and Appalachian blues that will be deeply missed by all who had the privilege of sharing his company.”
He is survived by wife, Lucta Johnson Allen; children, William Cleeland, Emma, Grace Lucta, Anne Marshall, Sarah Todd and other family. A memorial service for Gerald was held Sept. 18 in Pelham, N.Y. A local memorial service in South Carolina will be arranged at a later date.
Friday, Oct. 10, 2008